Jan04

Farewell 2015: Maybe I’m Called to Mission Work

I greeted 2016 by dancing with 30+ of my friends and 16,000+ people after a five-day intensive conference in St. Louis, and it was the most amazing New Year’s moment of my 23 years. I have a lot of goals for the new year but first I’ll begin with my trip.

Urbana twice-daily session.

The conference is called Urbana, it happens once every three years and is for students from all over the USA and Canada to learn about missions. When I say it’s intense, that means a schedule of getting up at 8AM daily for studying, two seminars a day in our fields of study, and two sessions a day where all of us gather to sing and listen to speakers talk about how people are persecuted all over the world for their faith. Each day I got back to my hotel at 10PM and joined others to debrief the day before sleeping at 1AM or so. Whew!

We hardly hard time to eat, let alone explore the city but here’s a photo of me being silly in the heart of St. Louis, so tired that I had my glasses on.

I’m batting with my friend’s selfie stick …

Why would I spend my holiday doing this? People have wondered. As my master’s program is at its halfway point, it’s time to think about what I will do once I get my degree, and the thought of going back to working 40 hours a week in an office terrifies me. I escaped from that a year ago into graduate school because I had done it for seven months after college and I couldn’t stand it. It wasn’t because I had a bad job or that the responsibilities were too tough, believe me I LOVE seeing the numbers in my bank account and modesty aside I was good at my job, I got three promotions in the year I was there. But I saw absolutely nothing for my future except working pointlessly. For months I didn’t even hang out with anyone because work made me so tired that all I wanted to do was read 9gag on weekdays and play video games on the weekend.

Since starting graduate school I’ve only worked part time while studying, and because of my Christian community I have a crazy social life. I enjoy it so much that I am delaying my graduation to the end of this year so I can work on my thesis game with no other class commitments while spending more time in community. However my mom has been saying to me for the past few months that I’m 23, I can’t be a student forever and that I have to accept the next step sooner or later because it’s “real life”. Which means cutting down my social life to work full-time, setting in a serious relationship [the phase that most of my same-age or older friends are at], getting married, buying a house, having children, etc.

As a Christian I believe everyone has a story to share, and that we are not bound to the rules of what “real life” is supposed to be because of these stories. And it’s difficult for any person to admit that, because of societal pressure. It’s also difficult for parents, especially Asian parents, to understand that I can’t return to working in an office. I could share with them my story, but they would call it a bunch of baloney and that I’m an ungrateful little ****. The circle will never end, which is why I attended this conference to find a way out instead of trying to fight it. To love my parents with God’s love means not arguing with them but also not succumbing to their ideals.

Make disciples of all nations.

The main purpose of the conference is to teach students about how they can become missionaries or do mission work, and hope that it will either help them grow in their faith or actually want to be a part of it. A missionary is someone who lives in a foreign country to promote Christianity and plant churches. Missions work is organized by churches to send members to foreign countries to care for people in need. And in seminars related to my field of study, I learned about digital missions, which is using technology to connect people who are in need. That would include:

  • Video games that present the gospel, love, friendship, family, and other themes that would light flames in people’s hearts that allow them to bond.
  • Apps where you can quickly send messages of hope to friends who are suicidal, which is probably easier on both parties than sharing suicidal thoughts VS coming up with the right thing to say.
  • Internet movements that promote awareness of people suffering, from extreme topics such as sexual exploitation of girls or less life-threatening things that still should not be ignored like the unnecessary pressures Asian students face in high school.

This sounded perfect for me! Except, it’s not that simple. In order to help people, I have to get to know their stories, which means spending time with them, which means if I want to help the people technology reaches out to, it means leaving my beloved city of New York and becoming familiar with other cultures. Thus on December 31st, 2015, I committed to be a long-term digital missionary as soon as I graduate because I can’t waste any more time, I am not getting younger. That completely changes my goals for this year!

  1. Blog more. I can’t stress how important this is, because writing is going to be a huge part of what I do and blogging allows me not only to share what I’m doing for support but also improve my writing to be more concise and clear. My goal is four posts a month which averages to blogging every week.
  2. Return comments. I know returning comments is not something I usually do (this is so much easier on Facebook with the like button) but I assure you I read every comment you guys leave. But returning comments encourages conversations and makes me look more welcoming, hehe.
  3. Read more blogs to leave comments. Bah, it’s very difficult for me to keep up with all your posts (once again Facebook makes this easier). I’m trying to come up with a way to keep track of who I read or don’t read, since my Feedly is overflowing. I want to get better at this because so many of you guys live in other countries that it would help me in my work later!
  4. Meet more people. At the conference I sneaked into a prayer room for Chinese international students by passing myself off as one (which is not hard obviously) but I told the people in my group that I was there to listen to their struggles as Christians in a highly atheist and oppressed society. They were welcoming but laughed at my silliness and joked I must be super extroverted. I’m beginning to grasp how immature I really am, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from meeting people because for years I tried being more mature and “cool” and only ended up in a shell of who I am.
  5. Read a book every month. When was the last time I read a book, 2006? I bought a number of books at the conference to help me grow my faith and it’s pretty essential I read them since they are published by mature Christians who are open-minded and have been missionaries. This is better than Googling when I’m struggling because a lot of articles online are written by people like me to ramble when we are lost half the time. Also note to self: I’m pretty sure the Bible counts as a book, Liv, as hard as it is to read the most essential book to your future.
  6. Play more video games. I neglected gaming in 2015 because of a lack of time, but if I want to make games, how can I not play them?! That’s like teaching swimming without getting into the water (like my high school swim teacher). I’m not going to be trying speed runs or pro-Smashing, nor am I going to join LoL or WoW. It’s indie games that should be my focus since that’s the full extend of my power as a one woman team. Goal is one indie game a month, as unrealistic as that is.
  7. Come back to Tumblr annnnnd INSTAGRAM?! What I like about them is that they are so powerful to share things around the world. I got rid of my accounts because they were too time consuming when I began graduate school. I’m not coming back to post photos of cats or food but to use them for accountability. My problem with working on projects is that I don’t want to share something until it’s perfect, which always results in me scrapping the project because nobody knew about it anyway. It’s time to change this!
  8. Finish my thesis game. Lastly, this is the most important goal of the year. I’ve separated the last 9 credits of my degree into two semesters so I can spend spring finishing up my classes and fall in thesis. That doesn’t mean I am neglecting my thesis until September! I will be constantly working on it. It’s a game inspired by Christian gospel to present that sort of material in a more positive light. I will try to write about it soon in order to hold myself accountable.

I’ll end this post with some photos of St. Louis. Happy New Year everyone!

St. Louis in a nutshell.

Required closeup of the Arch.

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15 Comments to "Farewell 2015: Maybe I’m Called to Mission Work"

Kristine wrote on 4th January 2016 at 8:46 AM

Happy new year, Liv! <3 I am happy that you are doing very well and you seem to have found your "calling." Keep it up, you are such a great role model for our generation and I admire you for it!

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Cat wrote on 4th January 2016 at 11:57 AM

Happy new year! That sounds like an amazing way to spend it 🙂 I’m so happy for you that you found what you want to do after graduation. Not everyone is happy with an office job, and it’s unfortunate that some people don’t understand that.

I think digital missions is interesting, and it does sound like a great fit for you! That’s also a nice list of goals. I especially like the idea of playing an indie game each month 🙂 I love that indie games are getting more and more attention. Good luck with all of those! I hope you have a wonderful year!

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Amy wrote on 5th January 2016 at 7:20 AM

Wow, that sounds like a great way to spend the New Year! Sounds very busy though.

It’s great that you have an idea about what you want to do. Hope you manage to do it!

I’ve not played nearly enough games last year either – I bought loads but then didn’t have time to play. Going to try and set aside some time this year though.

In trying to read more as well. I waste far too much time on Facebook when I could be doing other things so going to focus on that.

Good luck with all your resolutions!
Xxx

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Sue wrote on 7th January 2016 at 11:57 PM

Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey and convictions, not only in this post, but in many of your past posts as well. It’s really blessing and encourages me to keep fighting too. By sharing what you are going through, and your experiences as a Christian, you are shining your light in the blogging community, and people look up to people like you, as witnessed in the comments. I’ll be sure to check up on you to see if you uphold your goals. I’ll share mine with you and we can help each other. ^_^d

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Becca wrote on 8th January 2016 at 4:08 PM

I’ve not heard of Urbana before but it sounds awesome! Was it at the Scott Trade Center? I’ve attended several conferences there (Disciple Now is the only name I can remember ATM) but some of my favorites have been concerts, dancing with friends.

It’s really interesting that you were able to study and learn about missions in an area so specific as video games. I think that’s awesome. What a heart you have to go into missions! I am so excited to read more about what you will do and the amazing impact that you will have. The only missions work I’ve done in the past has been short-term (usually just a week in the summer, etc.) and it’s always been kind of in the back of my mind about what to do after graduation. I always thought about working in a non-profit area so I could make my job helping those in need and ministering to them.

Accountability is so important! I think I’ve been really lacking that lately. When I’m at home, I’ve got a good group of friends that hold me accountable and my mother is always very frank, but I don’t have a solid set of Christian friends where I’m living now, so it’s a lot harder for me.

I’m from St. Louis so it was awesome to see you on my home turf! I laughed a bit at the “St. Louis in a nutshell” picture. Pretty much, you just need to throw in some toasted ravioli and a Cardinals hat/bat/something and you’re set. It sounds like you had a lovely time and I hope your heart truly grew closer to god. This was a really warming post for me to read so thanks for sharing your experiences!

(Okay, I’m done writing an essay now.)

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Liv Reply:

OH WOW HAHA my friends actually went to get toasted ravioli at 11PM at the bar! I’m so sad I missed it because I didn’t know it was a local thing! Urbana was at the Edward Jones Dome in America Center. The best part about it is that we are able to learn about missions in fields specific to us!

I hope you can find some Christian friends at your local church, or even a university near you. Sometimes I’m too used to the number of people here, how many Christian students and churches we have.

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Michelle wrote on 8th January 2016 at 9:52 PM

Remember that other way too. Remember love most of all, and while I don’t certainly agree with Christianity, or any religion, I know faith itself is an open hand and a prison depending on how you look and react to it. Just remember to show love always, be tolerant of other beliefs. That’s the main issue I have with religions, they tend to have overzealous people and somehow that minority shuts down the majority, and that’s really unfair, and I don’t think you’re part of that minority that’s hateful, because you seem very full of love and energy, and that’s what we need in this world. We need religions and people in general to be tolerant and full of grace. You’re showing that to me now and I appreciate it! That’s why I love reading your posts! Keep it up!

Like John Lennon said, “All you need is love.” He couldn’t be truer.

<3 Sounds like you had a busy New Years! Hope your 2016 is great, as well!

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Liv Reply:

While I can’t speak for other religions, the reason Christianity becomes a prison is not because of how people interpret it, it’s because people do not understand what the Bible actually says. And they can’t understand unless their hearts are open to receiving! That’s why we need pastors to guide us, but like every profession out there, there are pastors who have no clue what they are talking about, and they’re the ones who create hateful communities that drive away the children raised in it. Very sad. 🙁

While I’m not saying my faith is perfect, in fact I’ve failed many times, I try my best to actually live exactly what the Bible calls for us, which is to be loving and spreading the freedom that my faith gives me. The reason some Christians may look zealous is because they don’t understand what being a Christian actually is about – they just preach the the Bible thinking it automatically makes them better than people who don’t follow it! Which is TERRIBLE.

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Michelle Reply:

That actually makes a lot of sense. I often wonder if these people read the bible (as I’ve read it a few times in my religious days) and more often than not, they don’t. I agree a lot. I guess that’s what fascinates me about faith, we aren’t perfect and yet we still believe in being better whether it be through god or through ourselves. I guess I got turned off because a lot of ‘Christians’, and I say that with some emphasis, would preach their word, but wouldn’t follow it. Also, I felt bogged down trying to defend myself from an angry world and then I started questioning my own faith and beliefs. I guess after the accident, I have to believe someone like God was watching over us, even if I didn’t believe, doesn’t mean he isn’t there, right? But you’re right. No one is perfect and I think that’s what makes us beautiful in the end, that we strive to keep coming back to grace and love from God. I guess I still believe in something after all.

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Liv Reply:

Coming back to grace and love despite what happens to us IS the first step to being a Christian, so I think that’s great you do believe that! God doesn’t cause bad things like accidents to happen, humans do. But He is watching over us with grace and love and it’s the one thing that is ever constant.

If you’ve ever felt the need to defend yourself from angry Christians then those people should be the ones questioning their faith and beliefs, not you. The second step to being a Christian is being vulnerable to acknowledging your struggles to God, and maybe people if you’re ready. Third step is being on the receiving end of that and helping the one surrendering through their troubles so that they can receive the grace and love.

As for those “Christians” you’ve encountered, just remember this: Going to church and reading the Bible doesn’t make anyone Christian, that’s like sitting in a garage with an instruction manual about fixing cars doesn’t make anyone a mechanic. 🙂

Tara wrote on 9th January 2016 at 9:49 PM

Happy New Year to you, Liv! Wishing you all the best 🙂 Glad you had a blast at the conference. Good luck with all your goals in 2016! I especially wish you luck with your thesis!

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Jenny KIm wrote on 10th January 2016 at 2:17 AM

Wow, that conference looks like a concert. But it sounds like you did a lot of hard work there. Hope you it has transformed you.

http://www.pixics.com/blog

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Kya wrote on 11th January 2016 at 2:14 AM

That sounds like a really interesting thing to take on and I think it’s wonderful that you want to be able to help people. This is your life and you have to do the things that you want too. 🙂

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Georgie wrote on 11th January 2016 at 6:14 AM

I feel you about not wanting to share something until it’s perfect. On the other hand I am glad you are not using social media for posting cats (figuratively speaking, I’m sure). I have to admit that a lot of people our age use social media to waste time on. I’m not a fan of that and I want to use it for what I enjoy. Tumblr was not a platform for me, but blogging, Instagram and Twitter are spaces I feel add some kind of value to my life somehow. I engage with a lot of professionals on Twitter and I learn a lot through there. Blogging is a self-explanatory one I am sure you have experienced yourself. Instagram is a bit fun, and I don’t post all the time, but I like sharing what makes me happy. Positivity all around!

I think I like ‘real life’ because I sort of threw myself into it straight away. I went to grad school straight away to do my Masters, right after I finished my first degree. At the same time, I started to work, but I worked full-time. I really pushed myself hard and I loved earning the money, but I feel like even though I stressed myself out to the point of no return, I learned a lot. And I have had several breaks during my ‘professional life’, and become mentally healthier along the way. I guess I learned the hard way, but I also love what I do. And I’m glad you are pursuing what you want to do! It’s great you are using social media for accountability.

And regarding reading blogs, I’ve realised I missed our interactions a great deal so I’m hoping to see you blogging more and I will also have a similar goal to keep reading blogs and staying in touch with blogging pals 🙂 🙂 <3 <3

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Kemi wrote on 11th January 2016 at 1:38 PM

Happy belated new year! Sounds like a very intense trip but I’m glad you enjoyed it, the time is worth it when it’s to do with something you are passionate about! I am also terrified about graduating and going into full time work, I guess that’s something we’ll all have to face one day.

Best of luck with your 2016 goals!

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